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Walnut and Sour Cherry Sourdough

I haven’t put up any posts on sourdough bread recently, which is surprising as I make a loaf one a week or so. Possibly because bread making is so much a part of my routine and I am making pretty similar loaves each week.

However recently I have been experimenting with nut and fruit sourdough – bread that’s somewhere between a savoury and a sweet loaf. I think my last couple of loaves have hit the nail on the head – full of earthy flavours of walnuts and the sweet/sour taste of dried sour cherries. I like to include a small amount another fruit too – either raisins or golden raisins, to add a little more sweetness.

The recipe is my go-to sourdough process with modifications to allow for the addition of the walnuts and dried fruit.

Ingredients

425g strong flour

150g sourdough starter

300g water

10g salt

75g walnuts

75g sour cherries

50g raisins or golden raisins

Method

Mix
Measure the flour, sourdough starter and water into a large bowl. Don’t add salt just yet. Roughly mix to a shaggy dough with a wooden spoon or dough whisk.

Autolyse
Cover with a plastic shower cap or plastic bag or tea towel and leave for 30 minutes so the mixture can autolyse.

Knead and Prove
Add the salt to the mixture. Using an electric mixer like a Kitchenaid, and the dough hook, knead on low speed for about 10 minutes or until the dough windowpanes when stretched.

Remove the dough from the bowl of the mixer and fold in the walnuts and fruit. I usually do this mixing in the nuts and fruit in 3 or 4 handfuls. Stretch the dough over the ingredients each time you add a handful. Don’t stress about having the fruit and nuts completely evenly distributed.

Cover the dough again and leave somewhere warm to prove for about 4 hours. After this first prove the dough should have noticeably increased in size, but not doubled.

Pre-shape
Carefully remove the dough from the bowl with help of a dough scraper onto an unfloured work surface. Definitely no flour needed! I use an oversized wooden board, but a bench top will work too. Sprinkle a very little water on the surface. The dough will be a bit delicate, so no rough treatment. Slide the scraper underneath the dough, lifting it from underneath. You will feel the scraper catch the dough as it lifts it up. I try not to remove the scraper, just move it round all of the dough in a circle. Sometimes the scraper sticks, and you need to pull it out, remove the sticky dough, and then go under again, but the more you move around the dough, the tighter the dough becomes and the less likely to stick. Do this circular movement with the scraper a few times until the dough forms a round, wobbly ball that roughly holds its shape. Leave for 20-30 minutes to let the gluten relax.

Shape
It can be tricky to shape a loaf so full of fruit and nuts, so shape carefully and don’t be too aggressive with the dough. You are shaping the dough into a boule or round loaf.

Lightly flour your surface and your hands. Flip the pre-shaped dough over onto the floured surface.

Imagine the round of dough is a clock face. Take one edge of the dough at 12 o’clock and gently pull towards you, and fold into the centre of the dough. Move the dough around to 3 o’clock and pull and fold again. Move to 6 o’clock, then 9 o’clock, pulling and folding. Do this process a couple of times until the dough feels tight and a little bouncy. Scoop the dough into curved hands and rock the dough backwards and forwards on the floured surface several times until the dough feels tight and smooth.

Carefully move the dough into a round proving basket, sprinkled with flour, with the smooth side of the dough on the bottom and the seam side on top.

Second Prove
While you can prove your dough for 2-3 hours at room temperature, I advocate the retarded or fridge prove, and this method serves me well. Leave the dough at room temperature for an hour then place in the fridge for 8-12 hours. Proving in the fridge at night allows you to bake your bread first thing the next morning.

Score and Bake This bread is baked in a round cast iron pot. Sprinkle a handful of semolina inside the cast iron pot. Pre-heat your oven to really hot – 240 degrees C. Put the pot in the oven when you turn it on and leave for 30 minutes.

Once the oven is hot, turn your dough out of the proving basket onto a thin flat baking tray or peel, dusted with semolina. The nice side of the dough is now on top. Open the oven and carefully take off the lid of the pre-heated pot. You can then slide the shaped dough into the hot pot.

Now score the dough using a lame or razor blade or sharp knife. Scoring with a cross is good, or you can score with 2 parallel slashes, giving the bread more of an oval shape.

Put the lid back on the pot and close the oven door. Turn the oven down to 220 degrees C. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for a further 25-30 minutes with the lid off. The loaf should be a nice burnished brown, but if it looks too dark after 25 minutes take it out.

Remove the bread to a wire rack or board and leave to cool for an hour before cutting.

Serve with a lot of good butter. This bread doesn’t need jam but it’s up to you! It would also be good with a nice cheddar, or perhaps cream cheese or Brie or Camembert.

Passionfruit Mini Cakes

These little cakes are full of passionfruit in the cake mix and in the icing. I love the fragrance and flavour of passionfruit. I will buy them up while cheap and freeze the pulp – great when I want to make a passionfruit sponge or these little cakes!

Cooking with buttermilk gives a great flavour to cakes so that’s what I used here. You can make cheat’s buttermilk if you haven’t any on hand by simply adding lemon juice or vinegar to milk, or even lime juice. You now have a pretty good substitute!

Here is the recipe for these passionfruit mini cakes. You can make them in fancy molds as I did or make them in an ordinary muffin tin.

Ingredients

Cakes

200g self-raising flour

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

125mls buttermilk 0r cheat’s buttermilk ( I added the juice of half a lime to regular milk)

Pulp from 4 passionfruit

Passionfruit Icing

250g icing sugar, sifted

Pulp from 2 passionfruit + 1 passionfruit for the optional fondant icing

1 tbs passionfruit fondant creme (optional)

Method

Cakes

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan forced or 170 degrees non fan forced.

You can make this little cakes in any fancy molds you have on hand. The cakes pictured were baked in my Silverwood three tier muffin molds. I buttered and floured these molds. You can use any standard 12 cup muffin tin. Line the muffin tin with cupcake cases.

Put all the ingredients except the pasionfruit pulp in a food processor and blitz till smooth.  Stir the passionfruit pulp into the batter.

Spoon the mixture into the molds or paper cases. If you’re using fancy molds like mine you will get 6 sizeable cakes. Using a regular muffin tin,  you will get 8-12 cakes, depending on how big you want them.

Place the tin in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cakes are cooked and golden on top. Check after 15 minutes, by seeing if a skewer inserted comes out clean. They may need a couple of minutes longer.

Cool the cakes in their molds or muffin tin for 5 minutes, then carefully remove from the molds or muffin tin and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Ice with a generous amount of passionfruit icing, letting it drip down the sides of the cakes.

Passionfruit Icing

In a bowl, mix together the icing sugar and passionfruit pulp and beat well. If the icing is too soft, or runny, then add more icing sugar to get the desired consistency.

Optional –  I mixed a tablespoon of passionfruit fondant creme (warmed gently in the microwave for a minute or two) with the pulp of 1 passionfruit. This made a very yellow icing which I drizzled on top of of the other icing. More for effect than anything else!

Halloween Soul Cakes

This year I baked my Soul Cakes early to be ready for Halloween, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. They were traditionally made to be handed out on these special days.

“The cakes, often simply referred to as souls, are given out to soulers who go from door to door, singing and saying prayers for the souls of the givers and their friends.”

The musician Sting has a version of the traditional song “Soul Cake” on his album “If on a Winter’s Night”. Here are some lyrics.

“A soul cake, a soul cake, 

Please, good missus, a soul cake.

An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry, 

Any good thing to make us all merry,

A soul cake, a soul cake, 

Please, good missus, a soul cake.

One for Peter, two for Paul, 

And three for Him that made us all.”

The little cakes are actually more like biscuits, and are delicious as they are full of spice and sultanas. They have a cross marked on the top too.

This batch of Soul Cakes are a little rough and ready! But taste great because of the spices.

Ingredients

100 g butter, softened 

100g caster sugar 

2 free-range egg yolks 

250g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/4 -1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon saffron (or more if necessary)

Zest of an orange

2 tbs milk 

100g sultanas

Method

Put the softened butter, caster sugar and egg yolks in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until everything is combined and the mixture is creamy.

Sift the flour and spices, including the saffron. Put the mixture with the orange zest into the processor, blitzing for a couple of seconds only, then blitz in the milk a little at a time until the dough just comes together. Don’t over-mix! If the dough isn’t yellow enough, add a pinch more of saffron.

Stir in the sultanas by hand.

Form the dough into a rough ball, them roll into a sausage shape, with a rough diameter of about 50cm or 2 inches, or whatever size you want your soul cakes to be.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan forced or 180 degrees C non fan forced.

Wrap in grease proof paper and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours or until you want to bake the cakes.

Bake for 15 minutes or until firm and just brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Take the sausage from the fridge and cut into thick wedges. Place each wedge on the baking tray. At this stage you should cut a cross on the top of each soul cake.

Great eaten warm straight from the oven. The soul cakes can be frozen too, but eat on the traditional days if possible!

Crumpets!

I have been making crumpets this week. They are such a great breakfast staple and a lovely afternoon tea treat.

I used my buttermilk crumpets recipe as I had some beautiful buttermilk from Pepe Saya, the Australian experts on all things dairy cultured! The link to their website is here.

So I thought I would revisit that recipe as well as my sourdough crumpets recipe. The buttermilk recipe is very easy to do as it uses commercial yeast. The sourdough recipe is fantastic, but you do need a sourdough starter on hand.

So here are the links to both recipes.

Buttermilk crumpets: https://thequirkandthecool.com/2018/11/17/buttermilk-crumpets-for-breakfast/

Sourdough crumpets: https://thequirkandthecool.com/2020/01/16/sourdough-starter-crumpets/

Hot Smoked Salmon Club Sandwich

This hot smoked salmon sandwich is Jamie Oliver inspired. The recipe is infinitely variable to make all kinds of different, delicious sandwiches.

Try it with leg ham or roast beef. Make it veggie by using halloumi instead of the salmon. Add a few pickles to the sandwich, or add condiments like chutney, onion or chilli jam, or even try it with pesto or hummus!

Ingredients

4 slices of streaky bacon

4 slices of sourdough bread

1 ripe tomato

1 ripe avocado

2 tablespoons home made or whole egg bought mayonnaise

1 tablespoon of basil or coriander leaves, bashed, stirred through the mayonnaise (optional)

200g hot smoked salmon (available from the deli section of supermarkets)

A handful of lettuce leaves or rocket

A few squeezes of lemon juice

Sea salt and black pepper

Method

Place the bacon in a cold frying pan, turn on the heat to medium and fry the bacon until crispy and cooked through, then remove from the pan. Turn off the heat.

Immediately put the bread slices into the still warm pan in the bacon fat to soak up the bacon flavour.

Cut the tomato into slices. Cut the avocado in half, take out the stone and peel each half. Cut the avocado into slices.

Now assemble the sandwich.

Spread the toasted sourdough slices with the mayonnaise.

Put two slices of toasted bread side by side and layer with the bacon rashers, tomato, avocado, chunks of the salmon and the lettuce or rocket. Squeeze lemon juice over the whole lot and add a grind or two of sea salt and black pepper.

Top each one with the remaining slices of toast. Eat and enjoy!

Orange Friands

Spring in Sydney means an abundance of oranges. Of course I love blood oranges, and use them whenever possible. But the humble navel orange is juicy, sweet and seedless. The wonderful Orange Grove Market sells local oranges that are just divine and I am buying them in abundance!

So I made my usual recipe for friands, some with blood oranges and some featuring navels. These little cakes are made with eggs whites only and ground almonds and are very similar to the French financier.

I made 2 batches, using a blood orange in one batch and a navel orange in the other.

Ingredients

6 egg whites, beaten lightly

75g plain flour

240g icing sugar, sifted

125g almond meal

150g melted butter, cooled

Grated zest and juice of an orange

150g icing sugar or enough to make a thick glaze.

6 orange slices, to candy

50g caster sugar

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan-forced. Lightly grease 12 friand molds.

Beat the egg whites until frothy with fork in a large mixing bowl.

Sift the flour and icing sugar into the bowl, stir in almond meal and then add the melted butter. Stir in the zest of the orange, and the juice of one half of the orange.

Spoon the mixture (approximately ¼ cup) into each of the molds.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes until cooked through and golden brown or until a skewer is inserted into centre comes out clean. Sometimes the friands need a few more minutes in the oven to be nice and brown.

To make the glaze, mix the juice of the other half of the orange with the icing sugar. You may need to add more or less juice or more or less icing sugar to get the glaze to the right consistency to ice the friands. Ice the friands with just enough glaze to coat the tops and perhaps to run down the sides a little.

To candy the orange slices, put them into a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes until slightly soft. Drain, and place the slices on a plate and coat well with the sugar. The slices will be sweet and slightly sticky.

Put the slices on top of the iced friands for serving.

Blueberry and Blackberry Almond Tea Cakes

Spring has sprung in Sydney and I’m dusting off my recipes for little cakes perfect for afternoon tea. Berries are plentiful and cheap, so perfect to pop into a small cake and top with a lemon icing.

The recipe is an all in one food processor recipe too. Easy!

One of the issues I have experienced with my little cakes is the problem of cakes sticking to the molds and coming out in pieces.

I picked up some advice that buttering the molds and flouring them, freezing for half an hour then buttering again, gives you a pretty good chance of the cakes coming out whole. So that’s what I would advise that you do.

Here are two recipes, both based on the same basic cake mixture, one for blueberry, lemon and almond cakes, and one for raspberry and almond cakes.

Blueberry, Lemon and Almond Cakes

Ingredients

65g self-raising flour

60 ground almonds

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tblsp milk

125g fresh blueberries 

Lemon Icing

2 tbsp lemon juice

Enough sifted icing sugar to make a thick but spreadable icing

3 blueberries for little cake for decorating

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C fan forced. Butter, flour, freeze and butter again your chosen molds. I used popover molds, but muffin molds would be fine. You will get 6 cakes from the popover molds, probably 8 from the muffin molds.

Put all the ingredients except the milk  and the blueberries in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Add the milk while pulsing the food processor to get a mixture that is not to stiff and of dropping consistency.

Carefully fold the blueberries into the mixture with a spoon.

Spoon the mixture into the molds, making sure you don’t fill more than  3/4 of the mold.

Place the molds in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cakes are cooked and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Once the cakes have cooled for about 15 minutes, carefully up end the molds and ease the cakes out of the molds.  Cool on a wire rack.

For the icing, mix the lemon juice with enough icing sugar to make an icing that will drip over the cakes. Ice the little cakes, adding 3 blueberries on the top of each cake for decoration.

Raspberry and Almond Cakes

Ingredients

65g self-raising flour

60 ground almonds

125g caster sugar

125g butter

2 large free-range eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tblsp milk

3 raspberries for each cake mold

Lemon Icing

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 or 3 pureed raspberries

Enough sifted icing sugar to make a thick but spreadable icing

1 raspberry for little cake for decorating

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Butter, flour, freeze and butter again your chosen molds as for blueberry cakes.

Put all the ingredients except the milk  and the raspberries in a food processor and blitz till smooth. Add the milk while pulsing the food processor to get a mixture that is not to stiff and of dropping consistency.

Spoon the mixture into the molds, making sure you don’t fill more than  3/4 of the mold. Carefully pop 3 raspberries into each cake mold.

Place the molds in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cakes are cooked and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Once the cakes have cooled for about 15 minutes, carefully up end the molds and ease the cakes out of the molds.  Cool on a wire rack.

For the icing, mix the lemon juice and pureed raspberries with enough icing sugar to make an icing that will drip over the cakes. Ice the little cakes, adding 1 raspberry on the top of each cake for decoration.

Jammy Orange Cake

I love orange and lemon cakes! Which will be no surprise to readers of this blog, as I have posted a few. Recently I posted Claudia Roden’s famous orange almond cake, made by cooking whole oranges.

This cake also includes a whole orange, this time used without cooking. It also has marmalade in the cake batter as well as in the glaze, giving the cake a lovely “jammy” flavour, hence the name!

It’s also super easy and quick! It’s made entirely in the food processor. Saves on washing up too!

The resulting cake tastes great and looks pretty enough to grace any afternoon tea table.

Ingredients

Cake

180g butter

1 large orange

180g caster sugar

3 free range eggs,  at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

200g self raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon good quality marmalade

Orange Glaze

150g icing sugar

Juice of half an orange

1 tablespoon marmalade (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C.

Grease a 20cm or (bigger) springform pan. If you use a bigger pan, your cake will be wider and not as high.

Line the base of the pan with baking paper.

Melt the butter in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stovetop.

Cut off the stem section of the orange. Chop the orange into large chunks, including the skin.

Put the chunks into a food processor and blitz until pureed, about a minute.

Add the melted butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla to the processor and process till combined. Add the SR flour, baking powder, salt and marmalade and blitz until just combined.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven, and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the pan ring to loosen the cake from the pan.

After another 10 minutes remove the ring and take the cake off the base, placing it onto a serving plate.

To make the glaze, add enough icing sugar to the orange juice to make a drippable icing. Stir through the marmalade if using.

With a palette knife or spoon, spread the glaze over the cake, letting it drip down the sides.

Serve as is or decorate with whatever you fancy – I love fresh flowers, or glacé or dried orange!

Fruit In Booze

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Fruit and booze – what a great combination! This is a great way to preserve summer fruits.

I blogged this first as Hoarder’s Jam, a curious title as it’s clearly not a jam and why would anyone hoard fruit?

It’s less of a recipe, more some simple instructions on how to combine fruit, sugar, spices and alcohol.

Lovely summer fruit like plums, peaches and apricots can be preserved, and the bonus is the fruity preserving alcohol is a great tipple or the basis of a champagne cocktail.

Ingredients 

Any mixture of stone fruit to make up 6 pieces:

Plums, apricots, peaches

250 g caster sugar

1 long piece of orange rind

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

330 ml alcohol: brandy, rum or gin

Method

Cut the plums  and apricots in halves, the peaches in quarters. Place the fruit and the sugar in china or glass bowl and leave for 1 hour.

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Transfer the fruit and sugar mixture to 1 litre glass jar with a strong lid. Place the orange rind and vanilla bean in the jar. Pour the alcohol into the jar. The fruit should be covered; top up with a little more alcohol to make sure all the fruit is covered. If the fruit won’t stay submerged, fill a small ziplock bag with a little water, seal and place on top of the liquid to keep the fruit under the liquid.

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Make sure you note the date of preserving on the jar. Keep in a dark cool pace for a minimum of 2 weeks or up to 3 months.

You can turn the jar occasionally, or VERY gently shake the jar. This is to help the sugar dissolve. After 1 week, the colour of the liquid begins to deepen, and a lot of the sugar is dissolved, with a residue still sitting on the bottom of the jar.

After 2 weeks the liquid in the jar has turned a deep ruby colour and all the sugar is dissolved.

Refrigerate after opening, although I’m inclined to believe the fruit is well and truly pickled and should survive quite well for a few days in the cupboard.

Claudia Roden’s Orange and Almond Cake

This is such a well known cake – I guess every cafe in Sydney makes a version and every other home baker makes it too.

Claudia Rosen wrote about it in “A Book of Middle Eastern Food”, first published in 1968. My family have been making it for almost as long, way before it became a cafe staple.

So I thought I’d post the recipe, with Claudia’s pared down instructions as well as my tips. Here’s a little bit of background from Claudia about the cake:

This is a Sephardic Jewish cake, brought to the Middle East by the Sephardic Jews when they migrated from Spain and Portugal in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It’s a cake that is served at Passover, as it’s made with ground almonds instead of flour.

This is a food processor cake, as I mix the whole thing in the food processor. Very easy and it saves on washing up!

Recently I had an online baking session where I made the cake with a friend, with some great results! I’ve included some photos of both of our cakes.

Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients

Cake

2 large oranges

6 free-range eggs

250g caster sugar

250g ground almonds

1 teaspoon baking powder

Glaze

200g icing sugar

Juice of half of an additional orange

Method

Put the 2 whole oranges into a saucepan large enough to hold the oranges. Cover completely with cold water. Bring to the boil, then cook the oranges for 1 1/2 hours or longer until soft.

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees fan forced. Grease a 21cm or 22cm spring form pan. Line the base of the tin with baking paper.

When the oranges are cool, remove from the water. Cut in half and remove any pips. Put into a food processor and blitz to a rough purée. It’s ok if there are a few small lumps in the purée, you just don’t want any big lumps.

Beat the eggs with a fork to break them up. Add the beaten eggs to the food processor, with the sugar. Pulse until the eggs and sugar are really well combined. Add the ground almonds and baking powder and pulse to combine.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Place the pan into the pre-heated oven and bake for 1 – 1/4 hours or until the cake is golden brown on top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. This cake is very moist, so it will take at least 1 hour or longer to bake.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool. After 10 minutes carefully run a palette knife round the edge of the pan to loosen the sides of the cake. When the cake is completely cool, remove from the pan and place on a serving plate.

To make the glaze, mix the icing sugar with enough of the orange juice to make an icing of dripping consistency. Using a palette knife, spread the glaze over the top of the cake. You could decorate with fresh flowers or herbs if you like.

Serve on its own, in large slices, for morning or afternoon tea or as a dessert. Lovely with whipped cream or Greek yoghurt.

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